By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A year ago, Stewart Cink was four shots off the lead at the midway point of the Wells Fargo Championship.
He cut that deficit in half on Friday as Cink fired a 69 to move to 10 under, which is two strokes behind Nick Watney. Cink, who is tied with Ben Crane, D.A. Points and John Senden, flirted with the lead, too, until closing with two bogeys.
"I was very pleased overall, and finishing like that is not what you want to do, of course, but they're tough holes and I missed a short putt on 18, which kind of stinks," Cink said. "But looking at it as a whole, I think overall very pleased, and I probably would have taken 10 under for two rounds before we teed off Thursday. I'm looking forward to it. It's a good challenge and a good chance for me to get some feedback on what I'm doing."
The last time Cink, who has been tinkering with his swing, opened with two rounds in the 60s this year came at the Farmers Insurance Open in January. Cink, who shot a first-round 65 that was his lowest round in nearly a year, went on to tie for 13th there, which is his best finish of the season.
"I knew today was going to be a tough day for me because it's been a while since I was in that position, up near the lead after a day," Cink said. "So I really had to go out with a clear game plan, and I did. I went out and accomplished my game plan pretty well, stayed in the moment for the most part. ... Today was a solid day with not a great ending, but overall pretty good."
Playing Quail Hollow may have helped, too. Cink's last top-10 finish happened to have come in this tournament last year when he tied for ninth.
"I love playing here," the former British Open champ said. "This is a great golf course to play. It definitely puts a premium on focus. There's a lot of danger out there to sort of navigate through. I don't know, it seems to heighten my level of awareness of what I'm doing out there, my game plan."
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
PALM HARBOR, Fla. -- Stewart Cink hasn’t had much to smile about this week -- through two rounds he was 1 under and near the bottom of the leaderboard. Saturday, however, Cink made a hole-in-one on the 190-yard par-3 eighth. He hit 6-iron.
The ace was actually Cink’s second here at the Transitions Championship. He also had one on the eighth hole during the final round of the 2003 tournament. He’s the first player to record multiple holes-in-one here.
Cink has four career holes-in-one -- the other two came during the final round of the 1999 Bob Hope Classic on the 12th hole of the Palmer Course and in the final round of the 2000 Bridgestone Invitational on the 15th hole at Firestone.
It also marked the 15th ace on the PGA TOUR this season.
Cink’s excitement was short-lived, however. Two holes later he double-bogeyed the par-4 10th hole.
SCOTTSDALE -- At least Stewart Cink has a sense of humor.
Shortly after he finished off an 83 Thursday in the first round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open, he took to Twitter to explain the uncharacteristically high score to his fans.
@stewartcink I'm not injured, except for slightly bruised ego.
Cink's round of 12 over included three double bogeys, seven bogeys and a lone birdie. He only hit four fairways, six greens and had 32 putts.
Thursday's round was Cink's 1,385th in 406 starts on the PGA TOUR. His previous high score was a 13-over 83 in the third round of the 1998 British Open.
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
There are only two weeks left for players outside the top 64 in the Official World Golf Ranking to qualify for the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship Feb 22-26 in Marana, Ariz. In other words, Vijay Singh and Padraig Harrington, among others, have some work to do.
Singh and Harrington are 69th and 90th, respectively, and in need of strong performances in one or more likely both of the next two weeks. Singh is in the field for this week’s Waste Management Phoenix Open, while Harrington has the week off.
Last year, Singh also failed to qualify.
Other notables on the outside looking in include Sean O’Hair (68th), Sony Open in Hawaii winner Johnson Wagner (70th) and last year’s Wells Fargo Championship winner Lucas Glover, who is 77th in the world and has yet to play this year after withdrawing from the season-opening Hyundai Tournament of Champions with a knee injury.
The player currently on the bubble at No. 64 is the Netherlands’ Joost Luiten. However with Phil Mickelson having already said that he plans to take that week off, the field would then extend to the 65th player in the world -- currently Rory Sabbatini.
Also among those outside the top 64: Kyle Stanley. The hard-luck loser of the Farmers Insurance Open is 87th in the world. Had he won at Torrey Pines, he would have moved up to 64th.
Others in more dire circumstances include Branden Grace, a two-time winner on the European Tour this year who has only climbed to 93rd; Camilo Villegas (99th); Anthony Kim (102nd); and Stewart Cink (138th).
Only once in Cink’s career has he failed to qualify for the WGC-Accenture Match Play Champisonhip, a tournament he’s been dominant in with six trips to at least the quarterfinals. On four of those occasions Cink reached at least the semifinals, including from 2008 to 2010 when he finished second, third and tied for fifth.
The charities of four PGA TOUR players received a total of $60,000 on Tuesday thanks to a program funded by DePuy Mitek, the Official Mobile Health and Fitness Provider of the PGA TOUR and Champions Tour.
Jim Furyk, Stewart Cink and Jonathan Byrd were on hand to accept the donations from the ORTHOVISC® PGA TOUR Player Charity Program, where thousands of fans voted for their favorite participating players.
John Daly, who is playing in Portugal this week, received the most votes so his charity, the Boys and Girls Club of River Valley Arkansas, will receive $25,000. Furyk earned $15,000 for the Jim and Tabitha Furyk Foundation while Cink's charity, The Healing Place, and Byrd's foundation, the Jim Byrd Memorial, each receive $10,000.
The Jim and Tabitha Foundation raises charity dollars and
awareness for groups that provide services such as hospice care,
hospital and nursing services, counseling, mentoring and food and
shelter services to those children needing it the most.
Cink's charity, The Healing Place, helps provide education and support programs for grieving children, adolescents and their families or guardians. Byrd created The Jim Byrd Memorial to honor his late father and raise money for local charities.
Fans were able to view information about a player's charity at a kiosk at nine PGA TOUR events and send them a personal “shout out” or text message. DePuy Mitek sponsors the state-of-the-art fitness trailers at TOUR events in an effort to educate golfers and fans alike on the importance of keeping their knees healthy and free of pain.
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
Only twice in his career has Stewart Cink finished a season without at least one finish in the top 3 somewhere on the schedule -- last year and in 2002. He doesn’t have one this year either. In fact Cink has just one top-10 all year.
After an opening 66 Thursday, however, he’s in a position to change that at a course he’s had plenty of success at over the years. In 11 previous trips to Firestone, Cink has four top-10s, which includes his win in 2004.
“You're always searching for ways to pick the course apart and take advantage of it, and sometimes it doesn't work out,” Cink said. “Today it is working out and there's going to be a low score out there.”
Unfortunately for Cink, though, there haven’t been a lot of low scores this season. The 66 Thursday represents his second-lowest round of the year and with the PGA Championship a week away, Cink is hoping that a win, or even a good week, can help turnaround what’s been an otherwise disappointing season.
“I just like the opportunity to try to get in contention again and maybe win another [major],” Cink said. “At the PGA I don't really feel the pressure that, oh, it's the last chance of the year, but I do realize that after it you have to wait a lot longer than most.”
By Melanie Hauser, PGATOUR.COM
BETHESDA, Md. -- New chapter. New verse.
Graeme McDowell wanted to put the 2010 U.S. Open behind him and he did. Woke up Thursday morning ready to go. Ready to be just one of the guys chasing the trophy at Congressional.
"I feel like I've spent the last three months talking about Pebble and defending my Open title, and so somehow coming here this week, I really felt that I had already sort of did all the talking and I was ready to move forward,'' McDowell said.
"I felt really, really good this morning. I felt normal. It felt like a regular Major Championship. It didn't feel like I was defending anything. And I just went out there. I set myself some challenges this morning to go out and try to think well, try to go through my processes correctly, through my routines, and just be patient and enjoy the round. And I really accomplished those things."
He finished the day at 1-under-par 71 -- two shots off the mid-day lead -- and with a first on the golf course.
He and Louis Oosthuizen both laid up off the tee at the ninth hole and when they walked up, their golf balls were touching.
"We laid them up from about 220 yards and the two balls were touching in the fairway, which I've never seen on the golf course before,'' McDowell said. "It was pretty incredible. It was a very unusual circumstance. Louis had to go first, and thankful he didn't remove a huge piece of turf, I didn't know what I was going to do to recreate my lie if he had taken a huge divot. He picked it off the turf quite cleanly and I was thankful for that."
He said, although the grounds crew is doing what they can with the greens -- they had a wet spring -- they are still having a few problems.
"Yeah, they're brown in places,'' he said. "They used the front pin on 4, which we looked at yesterday in practice and that was a particularly brown and beaten up area of the green. And they did the same on 12. They used the very front portion there, probably before they lose them, you know. Of course they've taken this golf course ‑‑ I know they've had a wet spring here. They've obviously taken this golf course to the edge to try to dry it as much as they can. There are certain areas of the greens that you can see are under stress, they're very stressed. Parts of the greens were firm.
"They're doing a job at the minute. It will be interesting to see if this wind continues to dry them out. You can hear the SubAir working on some of the greens and the SubAir not working on other greens. They've obviously got a bit of an imbalance out there, as far as how much moisture are on certain parts of the greens.
"At the moment, they're doing a good job."
And, just in case you're wondering, G-Mac didn't give the U.S. Open trophy a kiss when he gave it back.
"I didn't,'' he said, "I'm not really that sentimental.
By Melanie Hauser, PGATOUR.COM
BETHESDA, Md. -- Stewart Cink took one last swing at the 10th hole yesterday before he walked off the course.
Normally, he wouldn't. It would be nine holes and out. Back to the hotel. But he wanted one last look at the dastardly 220-yard par 3 over water.
Thursday, he was glad he did.
Cink opened with a birdie at the 10th Thursday -- a full, smooth 5-iron to 3 feet. Not bad. Not bad at all.
"They gave us a little break by moving the tee up,'' said the 2009 British Open champion. "And it was raining when we got to the tee, we had to do a lot of the mathematical calculations. I was over there early to see the group in front of me hit. I saw one ball. Heath Slocum hit a nice shot and it came up in the water. I added a few yards to what I was playing. And hit it in close.''
Seventeen holes later, Cink was in the clubhouse at 1-under-par 70, two shots off the early lead.
"I like being under par,'' Cink said. "I didn't play particularly well today. I scored well. I didn't hit very many greens, but when I did hit the greens, I made putts. It wasn't a U.S. Open style round at all, but I'll take under par."
The early groups, as always, got more receptive greens. What Cink wants to fix is . . . his play.
"I think I've actually got a really good attitude, I think I can do better than I did today,'' he said. "I hit some poor shots that I'm not very happy about. The attitude will be ‑‑ the rest of the day trying to figure out something to go with tomorrow that is a little bit more reliable, and hit a few more targets and come at it tomorrow with a positive attitude. "